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October 13, 2013

News & Features

Seattle Auto Show preview: luxury cars, latest technologies

Special to NWautos

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Four of the approximately 500 autos on display at this year's show include (clockwise from top left) the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla.

Whether you're in the market for a new vehicle or you just love to witness the future of the automotive world, there's only one place for you this week.

The Seattle Auto Show rolls into town Wednesday through Oct. 20. Celebrating its 90th anniversary, it will be the biggest event in years, showcasing a wide array of new vehicles, cutting-edge luxury autos and historic cars from yesteryear.

If you go
  • What: Seattle Auto Show
  • Where: CenturyLink Field Event Center, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle
  • When: 1-8:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 20
  • Admission: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, free for children 12 or younger; women $10 on Ladies Day (Thursday)
  • Website: seattleautoshow.com

Here's a snapshot of the trends and what you'll find among the approximately 500 new vehicles at the CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Luxury row

A highlight of every auto show is the collection of luxury exotics. This year is no exception.
As an appetizer, there will be a gorgeous 2014 Lamborghini Gallardo. The main course features a heaping of cars from makers including Bentley, Aston Martin, Lotus, Tesla and Maserati.

And save room for dessert: the 2014 Corvette Stingray, launched for the brand's 50th anniversary.

Self-driving features

Some of the biggest advances in new autos aren't apparent at first glance. Self-driving cars are at least a decade away, says Craig Chastain, communications director for the show, but the early features are cropping up in 2014 models.

As well as many lower-priced models, almost every high-end vehicle has some kind of accident-avoidance technology, such as lane-assist warnings, intelligent braking and blind-spot sensors.

A good example of this is the adaptive cruise-control system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which keeps the car a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

Small cars, big power

"We're seeing a lot of improvement in technology for smaller cars," says Chastain. "Vehicles with four-cylinder engines have shown big advances in torque and power."

Cars such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have smaller, lightweight engines that deliver fuel efficiency without sacrificing power.

There has also been a surge in crossover SUVs. Almost every carmaker — even many luxury brands — will have one at the show.

Clean diesel

Clean-diesel technology is another under-the-hood improvement. The Chevrolet Cruze, which gets 46 mpg highway, is among the fuel-efficient vehicles without heavy exhaust.

Other vehicles with the improved engine technology include the Volkswagen Passat, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Silverado HD options and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Get behind the wheel
    Licensed drivers 21 or older can test drive the latest vehicles from Buick, Chevrolet, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Kia, Mazda, Ram, Scion, Subaru and Toyota. The Ride and Drive schedule will be posted at show entrances each day. Ford will be taking over the Safeco Field outfield, allowing patrons to drive inside the stadium. And a simulator at the show will offer showgoers a chance to experience driving a NASCAR race car.

Rare beauties
Added exhibit space this year will help LeMay — America's Car Museum have its largest presence to date at the show. It will draw from a host of private collectors to showcase rare vehicles not displayed at the Tacoma museum.

Griot's Garage of Tacoma will display a historic vehicle: a Formula One race car from the 1970s. It was driven by legendary driver Niki Lauda, whose story is told in the film "Rush."
Unique offerings

A few autos scheduled to be on display are truly out of the box. Some could be the future of the automotive world, while others fill a specific niche.

MC Electric Vehicles will showcase a variety of EVs, including the Wheego, a three-wheel commuter car with high fuel efficiency. Morgan, a British company, will have a retro-looking three-wheel roadster. And don't miss the Caterhams — the build-it-yourself open-cockpit sports cars.

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